Everyone loves an energy boost in the morning — but what if you could make that energy boost work for you beyond your daily pick-me-up? Some teas provide an energy boost that is supported by nutrients and antioxidants that can keep you going well past breakfast.
You really can have the best of both worlds. But how does tea do it? Join us as we dissect the science behind tea’s better boost.
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Does Tea Have Caffeine?
All teas made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are somewhat caffeinated. However, the exact level of caffeine depends largely on the oxidation processes, harvest season, and growing conditions of the tea plant.
These teas are often called “true” teas, and they include black tea, green tea, oolong tea, Pu-erh tea, and white tea. Black tea leaves are plucked in the summer, which is when the tea plant’s caffeine content is at its highest. This is followed by oolong tea leaves, green tea leaves, and then white tea leaves.
Of course, there’s so much more that goes into tea cultivation than meets the eye. While black teas will generally be the most caffeinated of the bunch, there’s always an exception that proves the rule. Just look to matcha, for example — a green tea that packs a caffeinated kick that can leave many black teas in the dust.
Most herbal teas don’t contain caffeine, but just like all tea-related rules of thumb, there is at least one notable exception: yerba mate. This South American tea is high in not just caffeine, but two other stimulants as well.
However, caffeine does more than just keep you awake on your morning commute. It has also been associated with greater focus and alertness, improved short-term memory, and increased confidence. Plus, the caffeine in tea is absorbed differently by our bodies than the caffeine in coffee, leading to a more sustained energy boost without jitters or an afternoon crash.
If caffeine alone can have so many extra benefits, then tea must have exponentially more! Here are some of our favorite energizing teas that can help set you up for success.
Generally, black tea has the highest caffeine content out of any “true” tea, weighing in at 47 milligrams on average for an eight-ounce cup. While this tea may give you the highest energy spike, it also has several other health benefits. Here are some of our favorites.
Black tea is high in polyphenols like catechins and flavonoids, which possess strong antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are helpful because they can track down and neutralize free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can cause serious damage if not neutralized.
Black tea also has the highest concentrations of a special polyphenolic group called tannins. Tannins are what give black tea its dry, astringent feeling in the mouth. This is similar to wine, which is also a major source of tannins.
If coffee gives you the jitters, that’s the caffeine talking. By itself, caffeine can lead to some pretty uncomfortable and stressful feelings. Luckily, black tea has a trick up its sleeve to help balance out those undesirable side effects.
Black tea is a good source of l-theanine, an amino acid that is known for promoting feelings of relaxation and reducing feelings of stress. L-theanine can also help improve focus and cognitive clarity, which means that you can get all of the good parts of caffeine with none of the jitters.
Having a healthy metabolism is a must, so it’s important to do what you can to support your body’s natural metabolism. That’s why you might just want to go for a cup of black tea.
The catechins in black tea help support a healthy metabolism, while caffeine can help you expend more energy. As an added bonus, tea is a great source of water, which is essential fuel for a healthy metabolism.
If you’re curious about these health effects, try them on for size with Mango Orange Tea by The Traveling Teapot. This black tea is accentuated with mango pieces and orange peel for a refreshingly fruity drink that we just can’t stop sipping.
Green tea often has less caffeine than black tea because it is harvested earlier in the year, coming in at 28 milligrams per eight-ounce cup. Still, this spunky tea makes up for its decreased caffeine content with some amazing health benefits.
Like black tea, green tea is chockful of polyphenols. In fact, green tea is higher in catechins and antioxidants than black tea.
However, unlike black tea, green tea has a unique catechin called epigallocatechin gallate, also called EGCG. This catechin has incredibly strong antioxidant properties, as well as heightened health benefits.
While there are a few other dietary sources of this antioxidant floating around, green tea is the strongest by far.
Green tea can help promote emotional well-being because it contains l-theanine, just like black tea does. In fact, green tea contains even more l-theanine than black tea!
As we said earlier, l-theanine can help improve mental focus and boost brain function. However, this amino acid can also promote feelings of relaxation so well that it actually supports better sleep.
More sleep has been shown to positively affect emotional well-being. Scientists are unsure exactly how, but a working theory is that it gives your brain more time to process emotional information.
In any case, green tea may help balance out your mood.
Supplementing your oral health may not be your main reason for drinking green tea (that would be the delicious taste), but it is a pleasant side effect. Some of the catechins in green tea can help protect your teeth against tooth decay and can even help to freshen your breath. Talk about a functional cuppa!
Our current green tea obsession is Combray by August Uncommon. This delicious green tea also features cardamom and vanilla for a tea that tastes the way that pound cake smells. We recommend this tea for just about every occasion.
Although it is not a “true” tea, yerba mate has 85 milligrams of caffeine, which is a bit higher than black tea. In fact, that’s almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
However, yerba mate has your back in other areas, too. Here are some of our favorite yerba mate benefits.
Better Energy Boost
Yerba mate contains caffeine and two additional stimulants: theobromine and theophylline.
Theobromine is a stimulant that provides a much slower and more relaxing energy boost — and it lasts longer. This is because your body metabolizes theobromine differently than caffeine. This stimulant is also a component of chocolate and cacao.
Meanwhile, theophylline promotes healthy blood oxygen levels and can help relax the smooth muscles in your airways. More oxygen often leads to greater awareness and alertness, but without the caffeine jitters.
Loaded With Antioxidants
Like green and black tea, yerba mate is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, yerba mate is similar to green tea in antioxidant content.
However, yerba mate’s antioxidants do more than just round up and take care of free radicals. These polyphenols can also help promote a healthy heart and support your immune system.
Because yerba mate has more caffeine than other teas, it also has a greater effect on your metabolism. This may even be connected to the other stimulants present in yerba mate.
Stimulants work by increasing your energy and speeding up your body. It’s kind of like when a car revs its engine. By having more energy to expend, your metabolism has the support it needs to operate efficiently and effectively.
Since yerba mate contains theobromine, which provides a longer and steadier energy boost, this helps your body to keep these effects going. Basically, this tea is a great way to set your day up for success.
If you want to look at some other energy-boosting teas, check out our selection of energizing tea. From black tea to green tea to herbal infusions rooted in ancient medicine, we’ve got your energy craving covered. Plus, these teas also function to support your wellness.
Everything we put into our bodies matters, but it can be kind of annoying to tally up the benefits of every dietary choice. That’s why it’s helpful to reach for efficiency with one of these three teas.
Although black tea, green tea, and yerba mate can provide the energy kick you’re craving, they can do so much more. From calming the infamous caffeine jitters to boosting your metabolism, these teas are efficient to the max.
If you’re interested in trying new teas like these, check out our monthly subscription box. Just tell us a little about yourself, and we’ll start sending you our personalized suggestions. It’s none of the hassles — and all of the deliciousness — right to your door.
Energizing Tea Shop
Need a natural morning boost or afternoon pick-me-up? Sips by has the best highly caffeinated teas to help perk up your days. From black tea to yerba mate, and flavored to pure, there's a high caffeine tea for every taste. Try one of these energizing teas or add it to your morning routine.
Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more about our tea subscriptions.
About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.
The Impact of Caffeine on Mood, Cognitive Function, Performance and Hydration: a Review of Benefits and Risks | British Nutrition Foundation
Phenolic Profiles and Antioxidant Activities of 30 Tea Infusions from Green, Black, Oolong, White, Yellow and Dark Teas | NCBI